Nuggets From Shay Beider's Call
Posted by Ameeta Martin on Jun 20, 2021
Shay Beider had a moment of clarity while still a pre-med college student at UCLA. Shadowing doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and watching a girl tremble with fear before surgery, she suddenly awakened: “It doesn’t have to look like this.” Shay realized she could serve children and their families with something she’d already been delivering—healing touch. To put herself through college, Beider had been working as a massage therapist. Why not bring gentle, caring touch directly into healthcare? Beider would eventually create a new therapeutic approach called Integrative Touch Therapy -- providing hands-on therapies for kids, as well as supporting families and communities at little or no cost to the families. Since its founding in 2005, her organization has become a leader in pediatric integrative medicine. The future of healthcare, according to Beider, is where “high tech and high touch meet.”
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me:
- Shay’s teachers are the children and families themselves: she told a beautiful story about a child named Grace who had terminal cancer. Grace’s mother had a lot of anger/rage and was shutting out her hospital care team when Shay was asked to assist. Over the course of working with Grace’s mother for 1 year, the mother shared her deep fear and learned to transform her anger about Grace's impending death to love and acceptance. Grace’s mother became a great teacher:
"the ultimate shift that allowed her to do that was a shift from the material to the immaterial, because when she was fully identified in the material realm, when she saw death as an inevitable loss of everything that mattered, she was rooted in pure suffering. But when she could drop that, and remember that as the material faded away, as her daughter's body faded away -- and as she lost an ability to be in physical presence with that body -- there was an immaterial rising. There was the presence of the soul. There was the inner being underneath it all that wasn't going away. And so in her own process and practice, the mother came into relationship with the immaterial. And when that started to occur for her, she realized the relationship itself wasn't actually going to die. Her daughter was going to die, but that relationship was beyond time and space and beyond this physical reality as we know it. And so, in her coming to understand that there was a potency beyond physical existence, she found a kind of a peace. And then she was able to translate that peace to her daughter's brother, and to her husband, and to that whole family."
- What catalyzes the “healing encounter”? Shay detailed how ITK works in teams of 3-6 who then facilitate “a holding of a presencing”. Their team consists of people with “Shamanic” tendencies and draw on each other’s strengths to “listen from every ounce of their being/capacity” and try to manifest an opening/awakening within the child or family member. They try to help individuals access their own inner intelligence which then directs their own healing. It allows the care recipient to move into a river and then the river flow helps unfold the healing process. The goal of the healing process is to support the individual's journey to and past their transformative edge so that the healing releases itself energetically. The ITK team are like midwives who support care recipients “shepherd their own inner healing.” The team helps create the energetic space, often a space beyond language, for the healing to emerge. They help allow individuals to get out of their own way of healing. Shay and Cynthia discussed how the heart’s own energy field radiates out 7-8 feet and how so much of energetic healing is creating the field, which is often non-verbal and even non-touch. Hearts can touch.
- Shay’s personal journey – when did you sense you were a healer? Shay says that she doesn’t see herself as a healer but as someone who supports the healing process. She felt the spiritual dimension was gifted to her at birth. She had a traumatic experience at birth and nearly died and had a near death experience where she connected to the other side or “great mystery”. This experience was imprinted on her as a “great remembering” of what is beyond the physical self. This experience of “expanded consciousness” was reinforced by her grandmother who had similar tendencies and became her guide and mentor. Her grandmother modeled to her how to hold the many parts of one’s self together to become “whole beings”, how to create “bridges” between one’s many sides (e.g. scientific and mystical) in order to become a holistic being, how to embody polarities – the yin and the yang. Overall, however, EVERYONE she encounters is a teacher – every patient, family member – “I do nothing, I’m just listening; they are the teachers.” The goal is to be disciplined and resilient and keep showing up no matter what; if you fail one day, show up the next and try again. Healing comes from the source.
- Healers MUST recognize that “you CANNOT give what you DO NOT have to give” – if a team member feels they cannot give in a particular situation, they must be able to walk out of the room. Healers with the greatest capacities have the best boundaries. One cannot give endlessly – it is dangerous and very egoic. Everyone needs to restore and realign.
- Shay had a beautiful response to a listener's question about how to support kids in ordinary (non-hospitalized) settings that have been diagnosed with ADHD? First question is how what we’re labeling as ADHD might be in service of that child, because there is an intelligence that's manifesting -- nothing manifests without some intelligent design. It’s a process of inquiry: What is that revealing? How is that helping? What is the purpose? You start there and then you begin to peel back layers and then, as you go further and further and further and further in, you also recognize that there are energetic patterns to illness. “Every illness, what we deem as illness, has an energetic pattern. And so ADHD has an energetic pattern.” The energetic pattern of ADHD at times can have a lot of disorganization in it, and a healing team can start to cohere a child’s distracted and disorganized energy, and “naturally that child who feels an experience of disorganization will start to recognize a state of organization in the other beings that are surrounding them and they will start to relax.” So for a parent who has a child with what's being called ADHD: “organize yourself internally; find coherence through meditation, through breath work through sitting in nature, through reflection, through poetry, whatever gets you there; find coherence in you because ultimately that child will start to notice and their system will attune to your system. And something in them will start, will potentially begin to gradually little by little organize. … You can focus on internally creating a coherent and inner coherence inside of you.”
- Shay wore a necklace that had a raven on it. A raven has the capacity to go into intense darkness and is able to hold the light within the darkness.
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!
Additional Nuggets from the Transcript:
Opening beyond grief: "for every or any parent who suffers a great loss, there is going to be enormous grief and pain. But how do you start to open to something broader than that? And when an individual chooses to do that and make space to do that, everything shifts. So that's the transformation. That's the edge of change, as I see it."
Her Team's Process: "the most important piece is a holding of a presencing."
"[W]e go in collaboratively, knowing that we're going to draw upon one another's strengths and that ultimately, all that we're going to do is be utterly present, fully alive and awake with that child and with that family as they are right now. And whatever they present to us in that moment, that's the work, because we are going to listen from every ounce of our being, from the core level of who each of us is and knows ourselves to be, to that inner intelligence that's in that child or that's in that parent, that's in that family.
"And essentially, our entire role as a team is to listen with every little bit of our capacity. And so that's not just listening with our ears. It's taking in information on every single level, with our heart primarily, but through every orifice of our being, through our energetic body, through our mental body, physical, emotional, psychological, psychic, spiritual. Like every little aspect of self is trying to manifest an opening and an awakening, right? An opening and awakening to what is happening right here, right now. And how do I/we support it.
"And then what's beautiful is, when you have a team of people that are actually fully embodying that level of presence and deep listening, that then the inner intelligence from that child, from that family -- the inner intelligence that already knows how to heal -- it just starts to guide and direct. So again, we actually aren't really doing anything. We're in an undoing. We're in a state of just following. You know, you move into the river and the river shows you where she wants to take you." ...
"[I]t's literally a process, because the intelligence is leading us through it -- that will guide us ultimately to an outcome. And often it is a piece of the story within that child that is searching for transformation. Right? Because ultimately the fundamental nature of healing itself is transformation. In order to heal, something must change. Something needs to move and shift and transform. That's the essence of it.
"So at some point we'll reach kind of a, I don't know, like a cataclysm or a point where the child just says -- their inner intelligence essentially communicates, and this is often very nonverbal, so it's not like it's always in language. And often we're working with people who don't have the capacity for language at that moment in time. So it can definitely be expressed nonverbally. But there's an impulse -- an impulse for a transformative shift. And when that moment arises, we follow that. We presence with it and then we actually support it. We support that transformative edge, and we support it energetically, emotionally, physically. We might move our bodies into relationship with it. And then, foo! You know, at some point, that piece that needed to find freedom and break free -- like whew -- open and energetically release, it does its own thing. It does its own thing. We don't have to do anything. It's much more like a midwife who's supporting an intelligence and a process that already has its own deep understanding of exactly how to be born. So our role is exclusively in that kind of midwifery, shepherding role where we just say, Ah! And there it goes, you know? And there it goes."
"It's not doing; it's a following. So we have so many moments like that where we didn't do anything. We just presenced, we witnessed, we followed, we supported, we loved. Yes, sometimes we touched. Sometimes we touched without our hands. I feel we have really limited our idea of touch by thinking it has to do with this [hands patting her cheeks]. Our heart can touch. We don't have to use our hands or any part of what we think of as our physical body or extremities to touch. You can touch with your heart. You can touch with your consciousness."
Supporter of the healing process, not a healer: " I do not actually see myself as a healer. I see myself as someone who loves to support a healing process. So, I love being engaged in supporting someone through a healing journey. So that is like my role and that is actually my heart, love, and passion."
The gift of her near-death experience at birth: "My own kind of presencing and awakening into this dimension and into a capacity to be able to work beyond the physical and into the spiritual domains and dimensions -- I feel this was totally gifted to me from my own birth. When I was being born and coming into the world in this life, I had a near-death experience. There were a number of things that happened that you could say kind of went wrong during my birth. I almost died. And in almost dying, I connected with that other side. The whatever ineffable -- I want to say that which is the great mystery, right? So it imprinted on me in my physical little infant body a deep knowing and remembering. A literal remembering of what is beyond this physical self. And so, for most of us when we come in, that veil is pretty thick, right? So that veil sort of drops. For me, the veil was breached in that moment. And in that happening, it imprinted something on me so that I could never not know that for the rest of this life. I could never not know whatever name you want to give the great mystery, and it anchored something in me. So as a child, I remember at five years old having the kind of experiences that I have heard and read about, like shamans talking about where I went way out into the astral body. ...
"Honestly, the way I look at it, it is no different from how some people come into this life and they are supposed to be mathematicians. Their mind just functions beautifully in that dimension. Or another person comes in and they are supposed to be a musician. They just have a gift there. I think I came in and I came in with these imprints and I came in with this knowledge because I was supposed to be in the healing arts. Right? I don't really look at it any differently than any other inherent capacity. I feel like I was given that in my raw materials because it is like that “great force” that protects and provides everything that is life said, 'Yeah, this is the area. This is where you are supposed to go. This is your body of work. So we are going to give you what you need to do this body of work.'"
Embodying wholeness: science with mysticism, yin and yang: "We don't have to exclude one dimension of our being. We can be holistic, meaning we can have a mystical side and a spiritual side and a revelatory side. We can also have science and learning and foundations of knowing in this physical world through randomized, controlled clinical trials, et cetera. You don't have to have one without the other. We don't have to be afraid, right? There is a way in which we just work together. To me, it is an embodiment of the polarities. It is an embodiment of yin and yang. It is a whole reality. And so, my work is grounded in listening to how we create that fullness for our patients and the people that we serve and in our own hearts and lives? How do we keep that wholeness in a way my grandmother seemed to know, that we can be whole beings? We don't have to hide parts of ourselves."
"I fully embrace and our organization fully embraces the value of Western medicine. We don't need to diminish that in any way. It's simply that we're also bringing in all these bodies of knowledge from world medicine, from traditions that go back thousands of years that are equally potent and valuable and important. And we're saying there's mutual agency here and these can and should co-exist collaboratively. So it's that meeting of the minds that I think will ultimately create our greatest healing potential. I think it gives us the most freedom because, if I have a massive car accident, I want to be able to have a surgeon there to help me through it, right? But I also want the members of my team there to help me through it because they will have an understanding of what my soul is going through as well as what my physical body is going through. And so I don't want to give up one for the other. I want all of that to come together. It's very important."
Patients are her teachers: "I do nothing": "My most honest and authentic answer to “Who are my teachers?” is everyone. Every patient I’ve ever worked with, every person in my entire life. But if we’re going to just narrow it down to the children and families I’ve worked with, every single one of them is my teacher. To give you a quick example of that, a little boy I worked with who had Trisomy 18 -- I met him when he was 7 months old and worked with him until he was 14 months old, when he died. He taught me everything I needed to know about how to work with family systems. Because he was in this little body and he was dying and he was okay. He was actually really okay. But his sister was not okay. And his mother was not okay. And I saw that. He showed me, like, “You work with my sister, too. You work with my mother, too. Because they’re actually the ones-- they’re going to go on, to live with this for the rest of their lives. And I’m gonna go. I’m not here very long. I came here for a particular experience and I’m leaving. And they’re staying.” And then I realized, Ah! It was the teaching. ...
"And his mother, maybe 10 years after he died, wrote me a letter, saying how the work we did together changed her whole life, and she went into the healing arts, and she was doing her own healing, she was helping others, she was volunteering, she was doing all of these things. But how did I know to help them? I knew to help them because he told me. He showed me, you know? I swear, like, I do nothing. [laughter] I do nothing! I am nothing. I am just listening. Like, that’s it! So you know, the teacher is that baby. The teacher is that mom. The teacher is his sister. They’re the teachers.
"And so if I can hold that in my consciousness with full awareness, that essentially I'm just following and listening and they're leading, then really remarkable things happen. Because there is an inner intelligence in each being that actually knows exactly what it needs for healing and transformation. And so, to the best of my ability, I follow that within myself, and I follow it within others."
Great Mystery is Everywhere & Being Bilingual: "I think whatever “That” is, the great mystery, it lives everywhere, in all beings at all times in full presence and full conscious awareness. All we have to do is show up and be with exactly what is, as it is right now. Every child, every patient, every parent, every doctor, every nurse, every friend, every family member, every colleague, every being everywhere is “That.” So, if I can just try with great humility and great awareness -- and I know so little -- to remember, “Oh yeah, that's the truth.”
"If I can just for a second hold with my consciousness, “That is right. You are ‘That,’ too,” then something softens and there is a real potential for something beautiful to emerge. We are talking about the subtle today because we are on an Awakin Call. When I talk to physicians in the hospital, I don't sound like this. I bring a different voice. I bring a different language. But we are in a particular group here today where I feel it is imperative or a necessity to say, “Okay, in the realm of the subtle, what does this actually look like? What does this sound like?” Because I think that is largely who is showing up to listen to this conversation today. But yeah, if I am talking to a neurologist or a neonatologist, I am going to talk about this very differently. I have different ways that I language these things under different conditions."
Presencing & Resilience from Source: "I have come to change my language. Sometimes I still fall back into the old language. But I’ve come to change my language from “holding” to “presencing.” Because, I think, holding you kind of feel like you have to -- so what I have been working with more recently is, it's not a holding of the grief, but a presencing with. And that allows more spaciousness. ...
"So when that mother ran to me and grabbed me and literally just sobbed, sobbed, hugging me and shaking, and sobbing and sobbing and sobbing because her son is dying, my whole being could just hold it with love in doing that. And in doing that, why am I doing that? Why? It's a very important question. Why am I doing that? I am doing that because it reminds her -- the intelligence in me that's flowing through me, that's holding that place of compassion and love reminds her cells, her body, her being, her spirit, that there is something bigger than this. That her son's death is not totalizing. That even though in this moment it is so compressed because in that lived experience, she is in the agony of that compressed state of the physical self and the suffering and death and loss of the physical self -- can I hold her in that fully, in that place of agony and of grief, and at the same time, through my energy system and through my body and my connection to the divine, can I also cellularly communicate to her, “There is something more than this?”
"And I don't have to say it in words, because again, I am not the teacher. Like the essence is just flowing through me to give her something that might support her right here and now. And so in that, it creates a beautiful spaciousness for her to have that suffering, for her to tremble, for her to cry, for her to hold me. And somehow I am holding that, but I am also holding something else simultaneously, and that's the ultimate resilience. You want resilience in healing? It comes from Source. Resilience is rooted in Source."
Avoiding the Burnout and Ego of Heroism: "we are not some kind of crazy hero. We are also very much aligned with “we take care of and support each other.” We work to our capacity on any given day. And that's enough. And that there's great teaching in that. Like, we all are in this embodied self. We must honor this embodied self. We need to know when we need to say “no.”
"There was a study I read years ago about people who are the most deeply compassionate who do not burn out. Like, you know, they are incredible in this service space that we are talking about here today. And I read this years ago and it never left me. The people who seem to have the greatest capacity to do service work for years and years and years -- what was the common thread that they found in this like social science study? They had good boundaries. They knew how to say “no.” They knew how to say, “Enough, not today.” We must know how to do that. You cannot sustain in this kind of work. You cannot give endlessly. That is not sustainable and it's very ineffective, and actually dangerous. And it's also, in my view, highly egoic. Because it says, “Oh my self is so important. I have to, no one else can do it.” Baloney, baloney. There are other people who can do it. You are not that important. Just go back, restore, realign, and when you are ready, show up and give again. And that's it, it's a non-egoic state. This has nothing to do with you. It's not about your specialness. It's not about your greatness. It's about showing up for some other force, some other intelligence that needs to manifest in a being in order that they can have their experience of transformation."